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Theatre Directing - Master of Fine Arts

Availability: Hattiesburg Options

Earn your terminal degree in Theatre

Become the mastermind behind captivating theater productions with our Master of Fine Arts in Theatre with an emphasis in directing, tailor-made for you. Over three intensive years, you'll be emersed in the best practices of the profession, cultivating an environment where creativity, leadership, and innovation in theater flourish. Through a unique blend of personal growth, artistic integrity, and collaborative practices, we set the stage for self-discovery and a successful career in professional theater.

What makes our program exceptional is its exclusivity. Yearly, we commit to nurturing your talents, guaranteeing unparalleled personalized attention and a plethora of directing opportunities. Our rigorous curriculum delves into the history and theory of directing and dramaturgy across diverse theatrical genres. 

Beyond the academic rigor, you'll gain hands-on experience in a dynamic, collaborative environment, where directors, actors, and designers work closely together to create memorable theatrical productions. Our cutting-edge facilities, featuring the Woods proscenium theater, the Hartwig black box theater, and the Tatum thrust theater, serve as crucibles of learning and creativity, elevating your journey to mastery in the world of theater directing.

NAST Accreditation

The University of Southern Mississippi is an accredited institutional
member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre.


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5fully produced shows each year
3dedicated performance spaces
3year terminal degree completion

What Will I Learn?

Our MFA in Theatre (Directing) promises a transformative experience that blends artistic growth with practical training, preparing you for a career in professional theater.

Meet our faculty, a remarkable blend of seasoned educators and dynamic professionals deeply rooted in the professional theater industry. With their dual roles as expert guides and active practitioners, they maintain profound connections that directly influence your development.

  • Head of Directing, Assoc. Prof. Andy Park, is a member of SDC and has served as artistic director of numerous professional theaters, organizations, and festivals. He has directed productions nationally and internationally.
  • The Head of Performance, Prof. Monica Hayes, is a member of Actors Equity and former member of British Actors Equity.
  • Voice Specialist, Prof. Robin Aronson, is a member of Actors Equity and a certified Lessac Voice and Body Trainer with specializations in Musical Theater, Suzuki Movement Training for the Actor, Lessac Voice and Body Work and Stage Dialects.
  • Movement Specialist, Asst. Prof. Caitlyn Herzlinger, is a certified teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors and Dueling Arts International.

We ensure you get the opportunity to expand your professional networks by regularly inviting guest artists to campus. Recent guests include:

  • Jerrilyn Lannier-Duckworth, founder of Bridging the Gap: A Look Into African American Hair and Make-up for Theatre, USM alumna and professional costume designer.
  • Aleshea Harris, Obie Award winning playwright of Is God Is.
  • Gab Reisman, playwright, director, and immersive theatre maker and Rosa Parks Playwrighting Award recipient
  • Robert Icke, Broadway and London Director, recipient of Critics’ Circle Theatre and Laurence Olivier Awards.

You'll engage in the Directing Studio every semester, a dynamic experience where the focus evolves with each passing term. Regardless of the subject, our training remains consistently practical and hands-on. From delving into Dramaturgy for Directors to mastering Shakespearean techniques, navigating Period Styles, directing for Musical Theatre, and exploring Entrepreneurship for Directors – each facet is covered. This holistic approach ensures that upon graduation, you emerge as versatile and well-prepared professionals ready to make a mark in the world of theater.

You'll delve into at least three seminars, each offering a unique avenue for exploration. The options are diverse, ranging from Script Analysis and Theatre Production Research to Contemporary Trends in Theatre, Period Style Design, Dramatic Theory, and a Seminar in Acting and Directing. These seminars follow a regular rotation, providing you with the flexibility to tailor your choices to align with your personal goals and specific training needs.

Southern Miss Theater is an active participant in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), a national program devoted to celebrating college theater across the United States. Operating within KCACTF Region IV, our mainstage productions undergo adjudication by a KCACTF respondent, making them eligible for regional and national recognition as well as prestigious awards. The festival, with its regional gatherings, workshops, and accolades, serves as a platform to promote excellence and acknowledge the exceptional talents of our students.

You'll be granted a unique opportunity through the Blaine Quarnstrom Playwrights Series. Within this prestigious series, MFA students work together with renowned playwrights, directing new works and bringing them to life on stage. This collaboration fosters a deep understanding of the creative playwriting process. It also sharpens your directorial skills in interpreting and presenting contemporary work. The Playwrights Series, named in honor of esteemed professor Blaine Quarnstrom, emphasizes the importance of nurturing new voices in theatre while providing you with invaluable, real-world experience.

Southern Arena Theatre (SAT) is our professional summer theatre program, that provides a unique experience where you can work alongside professionals in the industry. SAT is known for producing high-quality, innovative productions in a repertory format during the summer months. The program not only serves as a platform to gain real-world experience but also offers the community a chance to experience live theatre during the summer season. You might have the opportunity to direct or assistant direct for SAT.

If teaching is part of your career goals, gain direct teaching experience and refine your instructional skills by serving as a Teaching Assistant in directing courses and leading Introduction to Theater classes. These teaching opportunities deepen your understanding of theater and prepare you for future careers in stage direction and academia.

  • The London Stage: You can opt for a transformative theater experience in London. This excursion involves attending live performances, exclusive backstage tours, visits to premier conservatories, and master classes with renowned industry professionals. Participants immerse themselves in London's rich theater scene, experiencing award-winning musicals, classical and contemporary productions, and cutting-edge works. Notable stops include the Royal National Theatre, The West End, The Royal Opera House, and The Globe Theatre.


Prospective MFA Directing students are required to submit the following as part of the online graduate application:

  1. A cover letter discussing your interest in graduate education in directing, and career goals.
  2. A current resume listing all directing and other theatre credits, including any professional credits.
  3. 3 letters of recommendation.
  4. Undergraduate transcripts
  5. Director's Notes as prompted on the Graduate School’s submission platform.


The School of Visual and Performing Arts at USM invites dedicated individuals to apply for Graduate Assistantships.

  • Currently, compensation is set at $11,700 for a nine-month contract.
  • Graduate students work an average of 20 hours per week, taking on theatre jobs such as teaching, front of house duties, and event management.
  • Semesters are 15 weeks long, with an additional week prior to the start of classes for orientations, preparatory meetings, and school -wide gatherings.
  • MFA candidates hired for the Southern Arena Stage (SAT), a summer repertory company, receive both six credit hours of free tuition and a stipend.

Faculty Spotlight

A dynamic educator, artistic director, and puppeteer, Prof. Andy Park currently leads the USM Theatre program as the head of directing and serving as an associate professor. He has directed productions nationally and internationally. During his tenure at Nebraska Repertory Theatre (2017-2022), Andy directed memorable productions like The Glass Menagerie, Mother Courage, Avenue Q, and Hair. Andy currently serves as artistic director of aquatic shows for Chicago’s John G. Shedd Aquarium.

Educator, artistic director, and puppeteer

Andy Park




Degree Plan Availability
Theatre (Directing) MFAHattiesburg

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School of Performing and Visual Arts

Theatre and Dance Building (TAD) 202D

Hattiesburg Campus

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  • Director
  • Scenic Designer
  • Costume Designer
  • Actor
  • Lighting Designer
  • Theatre Professor
  • Yolanda Williams, Directing
    Producing Artistic Director/Co-Founder at Blue Light Underground Ensemble
  • Rasheeda Moore, Performance   
    Improv Actor, Chicago credits at iO, The Second City, ImprovAcadia and The pH Comedy Theatre
  • Sean Scrutchins, Performance, 
    AEA Actor Denver, Henry Award for Best Actor and another for Best Ensemble
  • Hali Hutchinson, Costume design and technology
    Costume Lab cutter/draper UNC, Charlotte
  • Sheldon Mba, Performance
    Assistant Professor of Music and Dance, Friends University
  • Lauren E. Turner, Performance
    Producing Artistic Director of No Dream Deferred, listed among “6 Theatre Workers to Know in American Theatre” by American Theatre Magazine/Theatre Communications Group
  • Rachael Schwartz, Performance
    AEA Actor, Professor of Acting at University of Wisconsin-Parkside
  • Jonathan Andrew, Performance
    Theater Arts Instructor, Campbellsville University
  • Courtney Brown, Performance
    AEA Actor, Associate Professor, Kent State University